Chinese Rooms

 I have to write a fair amount of text for this drawing because the drawing should be “below the fold” because it is more explicit than most. So with words I’ll push it there. “Below the fold” is newspaper – remember them? – jargon. They were folded in half for display and anything on the lower half of the page not seen on first glance.

There are usually three characters in my drawings. They are Crazy Artist (CA), AW/NL who is an Attractive Woman, if clothed or a Naked Lady, if not. The third is other man. I call him GTG for “gets the girl” as he usually does. He’s not here this time. In this drawing there are only the two of us. Each is drawn twice as flesh and once as a drawing of a drawing.

The Chinese room is my take on John Searle’s 1980 paper where a literate Chinese person slides questions written in Chinese under a door. On the other side of which sits a another person, not literate in Chinese. But that person has this huge book (Codex Gigas?) that pairs Chinese ideographs in simple question and answer form. S/he looks up the one from under the door and slips the other of the pair back under the door to the Chinese person on the first side.

So does the Chinese person think that other person is also literate in Chinese?  I say yes. But is s/he? I say no. The usual point of this story is that computers can act smart but really be dumb. As if this was worth bothering about. We attribute intelligence, will and malice to infants, dogs and cars without any proof that they are capable of any of it, so what’s the big deal about whether computers are intelligent? Someone said computers think like submarines swim. They do what they were designed to do, no more. Learn to deal with it.


Right room

CA is manipulating signs – syntaxing his little semiotic of NL, while looking at an image – no, it’d be an image if the lights on the real side went out and he was thinking of what’s there as he drew her from memory. It’s really fantasy, though because he’s on this side. He can’t be over there too, right? Wrong, he could be remembering being over there with her, even though, if the lights came back on she’d be alone or more likely with some other guy, GTG.

He is creating an icon that represents NL, wiggly lines that look like her. An index also, seeing female nakedness leads him to thoughts of sex. but a symbol? Perhaps, but it’s anything but arbitrary.

Left room

A real CA is manipulating a real NL – and vice versa. There is also an icon of CA. what is NL thinking as she looks at it? Is the drawing of him the same to her as the drawing of her is to him? Don’t ask me; I know less about what women think than I do about what Seale, Lacan and Peirce think.

Someone else said that while the second person in the thought experiment is not literate (intelligent) but the room with its book is. My Chinese rooms are not literate in each other’s languages. Neither are the lost souls in them. There are no books of translations; you’re just supposed to know. He makes a symbol but she sees an icon. She says she wants it to be real but really he’s just a symbol to her, a means to an end.